Thank you for contacting me about the Elections Bill and the Electoral Commission.
I welcome that the Elections Bill makes provision for a wide range of photographic identification to be used for voting at the polling station. These documents have been carefully chosen with security and accessibility in mind. Identification that does not show a photograph of the elector does not provide a reasonably high level of proof to prevent personation at the polling station. MPs have been informed that 98 percent of electors already own one of the documents specified in the Elections Bill. Furthermore, expired forms of identification will also be accepted so long as the photograph is of a good enough likeness. Moreover, anyone without identification will be able to apply for a free Voter Card from their local authority. I think I’m right in saying that the rules will be almost identical to those in Northern Ireland, where Voter ID has now been in place for all elections over many years.
The Elections Bill will improve the accountability of the Electoral Commission by making provisions for a Strategy and Policy Statement to be introduced. I support this measure as I believe that making the Electoral Commission more accountable will strengthen the integrity of the electoral process.
The statement will set out guidance and principles which the Commission would have to consider when carrying out its functions. It is commonplace for the Government to set a broad policy framework, properly debated and approved by Parliament, by which independent regulators should work.
The Commission will continue to be governed by the Commissioners and will remain operationally independent of government. The introduction of the statement would not in any way affect the ability of the Commission to undertake investigative, operational or enforcement activity as it sees fit, but it will ensure greater accountability to Parliament on how the Electoral Commission discharges its wider functions.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes,
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking